Another Nat MP is in the gun for failing to declare financial interests in line with Parliament’s rules. The Taranaki Daily News is reporting that local National MP Jonathan Young (Herald journalist Audrey Young’s brother) did not declare his directorship in a company that holds his trust’s properties.
The article, written by Massey University journalism student Ryan Bridge (great to see some of the new kids off the block showing some of the old journos how it’s done), states:
Mr Young, National MP for New Plymouth, is a director of Seaview Super Trustees Limited, a firm he says “carries his trust’s properties”, and for which he is listed by the Companies’ Office as holding a 50 per cent shareholding. The other 50 per cent is held by his wife, Maura. Another director listed, without a shareholding, is North Shore accountant Mark Thompson.
Parliamentary rules require that MPs must declare any interest where they hold a directorship or more than 5 per cent of the voting rights.
These declarations of pecuniary interests are critically important. They form part of how the public and the media can judge whether or not an MP has a conflict of interest, and whether or not questions of corruption arise.
When approached by the Taranaki Daily News earlier this week, Mr Young immediately amended his register of pecuniary interest declaration, filed earlier this year, to include his directorship. But when first questioned he said the declaration had already been made. “I’m sure I did submit that. I did, I did submit that. I got a message back from the registrar’s office about that,” he said.
He subsequently indicated the registrar could be to blame for failing to include his declaration and that the message would clear him of any wrongdoing. When asked to make the message public, he conceded he had failed to declare the directorship.
“I’ve informed the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests about the omission I made regarding the directorship of Seaview Super Trustees Limited, asking her to include it in my declaration.”
So let’s get this straight. First, Mr Young claims he declared his interest. Then he tried to blame the Office of Clerk for not including his trust on the register. And then only after being shown up by the journalist did he admit his declaration was wrong.
That’s not good enough. This is a serious issue and Mr Young must explain why he didn’t declare his financial interests in the first place. And further, why he tried so hard to hide his “error”.
It looks like the standard set by John “blind trust” Key has infected his own MPs. One wonders how many other Nat MPs will be caught with a whiff of irregularities around their pecuniary interests?